Every evening my travel buddy and I had been drinking booze until we: A) Ran out of money, B) Got thrown out of the bar, C) Passed out, D) All of the above. We needed a change. It was time to go bush.
So we decided to spend a few nights camping on Fraser Island drinking booze until A) The alcohol ran out, or B) We collapsed from exposure.
I was well excited about camping, toasting marshmallows around a cosy campfire, cooking up barbeques on the beach, and sleeping under the stars. It was going to be awesome.
But it didn’t take long for the reality of the situation to hit me. Some time after 5am on the day of departure – between being handed the itinerary complete with instructions on where to store the shovel, which was going to be used for “toilet facilities”, and watching the video on what to do if a pack of 25 dingoes try to tear you limb from limb during the night – I realised this was going to be a challenge.
So with some trepidation, we set off on the barge to Fraser Island in our four-wheel drive and hit our first hurdle. Apparently in the first week of operating, four groups had overturned their vehicles, which may or may not be linked to the fact that they hold 11 people, have 10 tonnes of weight strapped to the top, and can be driven by any idiot that holds a driver’s licence.
To shift the danger of imminent death up a gear, we were expected to drive around on unmade sand paths, complete with 10 foot drops on either side.
I know what it means now when people say they saw their life flash before them – my last thought as we nearly overturned being that there certainly wasn’t going to be any time to get the shovel, let alone find a wooded area as described in the camping handbook.
At least it proved to be an icebreaker.
I soon found myself sitting on top of the person next to me, desperately grabbing on to them with my legs and screaming. And that’s before we’d even started drinking!
By some miracle, we survived the trip, despite getting lost numerous times, getting our bus stuck in the sand, most of our food going off in the heat and nearly being cut off from the camp ground by the tide coming in.
I was also a bit concerned about the poor standards of hygiene. After a particularly hectic bus ride, we got out to find that my foot had become wedged in the frying pan.
My feet were filthy because my flip flops had broken on the first day and I had been walking around the beach, in a lake and in a rainforest barefoot (yes I was truly at one with nature.)
Despite all this, once I got over the initial culture shock of camping, I have to say it was really fun. The scenery out there is postcard perfect beautiful, and it’s amazing how quickly you can get used to not washing.
The only downside was having to go to the toilet in the woods in the pitch dark while simultaneously making sure no one could see you and there are no poisonous snakes around – no mean feat after consuming your bodyweight in goon!
Seriously though, it was one of the best parts of the trip so far. It was like nothing I’ve ever done before. I had a brilliant time and met loads of great people, so don’t be put off!
P.S. As well as dingoes, make sure you watch out for purchases in the “local” shop. You may have to take out a second mortgage to afford a packet of crisps.